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Mid Staffs staff experienced 'culture of fear', Francis says


The head of the independent inquiry into the failures at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust has criticised its “culture of denial”.

Speaking at the publication of the inquiry’s report, Robert Francis QC repeated concerns about a culture of fear and secrecy which he said had prevented nurses and others from speaking out.

He said this culture continues, and he believes it prevented some from giving evidence to the inquiry.

“The staff evidence persuaded me there was a culture of bullying and fear at the trust. There was at times a forceful style of management which was perceived as bullying even if it wasn’t intended.”

“Perhaps most worrying I found a widespread culture of denial. Despite the Healthcare Commission report, many managers and staff seem to believe the criticisms were exaggerated and inaccurate.

“I hope this report will lead to the staff in the trust accepting the scale of what went wrong.”




Readers' comments (7)

  • I'm sure that the Mid Staffs enquiry is not unique. In my experience many other places have a same 'culture'. No matter who gets criticised and/or blamed, it's always 'not my fault'. Is that partly the nursing culture though? Perhaps....

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  • Mid Staff hospital is definately not the only trust that has this attitude of bullying and fear. Only yesterday a staff member here was told her job no longer existed after over 10 years service. The work still exists but the people who she works for will have to do her work on top of their already huge caseload. The people skills used were so delicately put you are lucky you have a job!!!!!!
    She has been downgraded and has to do a job that her contract does not say she was originally employed for. There is something very wrong with a NHS that can treat loyal employees like this.
    Wake up managers there are those of us that will remember HOW YOU HAVE TREATED YOUR STAFF

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  • As someone who has worked in the NHS for over 25 years I am not shocked by the findings of this report. The NHS certainly has a culture of bullying and denial, which successive goverments have nutured. As orgainisations have become more autonomous and accountable the need to present a good public profile has become their raison d'etre, the corporate reputation is all and in these compeative times no one wants to say they are failing so everyone pretends all is well.
    As my Nan would say 'Fur coat and no knickers'.

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  • this comes as no suprise to nurses.Management are not only bullies but have no other concern than their own financial gain.
    Financial considerations are now the top priority in our trust.Having gained foundation status the trust is failing and the loosers are the patients.
    Whilst there appears to be no cap on management recruitment ,nursing is having to provide a service on skeleton staffing ,all in the cause of recouping money.
    Nurses are both physically and mentally exhausted and of course patient care and safey are constantly being compromised.
    Do the management knolw this? of course they do but it is not financially viable(in their philosophy) to employ adequate frontline nurses.
    We have many Quality and Safety Matrons -but where is the quality and safety.Yes I am sure they can identify ares for improvement -as all of us can, but if it costs money then forget it.So what purpose do they serve ,their salaries are of course much higher than frontline nurses.

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  • Yes, Financial Trust status makes sense to us all; but at what cost? A reduction in staffing levels and levels of patient care - and a loss of reputation not only locally but nationally

    Thank you to all the nursing staff in Mid Staff for working through such arduous times to deliver the care that the patients deserved, to the best of their abilities.

    Thank youto the staff for doing the right thing (not always the easiest option) in having the courage to step forward and put forward their valuable evidence

    Is the goal of achieving targets really worth it?

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  • Surely everyone knows that we need more and more highly paid managers in the NHS.
    Because most of them are incompetent and corrupt.
    They are in post to pick up a fat monthly salary and build an even fatter pension.

    Providing adequate frontline staff ratios might result in less perks,bonuses and smaller golden handshakes for those managers who move on when incompetence is proven (happening more & more).
    Because they know little about healthcare, they make work for themselves by bullying and harassing hard working frontline staff.
    Particularly nurses who raise concerns about staff shortages, or health & safety.

    I should know. It happened to me. I followed policy and procedure,but unfortunately management did not. I was subjected to further intimidation while managers blatently lied their way through meetings. They then squandered precious NHS money on an unecessary independent investigation.
    Imagine their shock when the investigation found in my favour and told them that what I was requesting,was what any good management should have in place.

    Revenge was swift & I was suspended from my specialist practitioner post. I took the case to an Employment Tribunal. A week before the tribunal hearing the Trust settled by paying me a large sum of money.
    I have since discovered that this is happening UK wide on a regular basis.

    Little wonder that patients are dying in dirty environments, without enough staff to provide basic standards of care.

    Something has to be done.

    Of course we have some good managers,but they are few and far between.
    Kathleen White (Edinburgh).

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  • More paperwork/audits have now been introduced at Stafford.
    We now have "Comfort rounds", to be completed and signed EVERY HOUR, asking patients questions such as "are you in pain, would you like a drink" etc. It says that this is a pilot scheme, but the nurses, as usual, are at the brunt of this scheme, trying to care for their patients and complete these stupid audits. It also takes away all responisbility from the patient to decide for themselves if they want to call the nurse (they DO have buzzers to call the nurse you know!).
    Are things improving? Not at this rate, I don't need a chart to tell me if my patients are being looked after, I'm trying to actually do it!

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